Green design and construction is a career arena in which there are not an abundance of women being represented, yet we found a number of women working in these sectors and leaving their distinctive mark. Below are profiles of 10 women who we believe are pioneers in the green building and design field. If you know of a woman in green design and building who you believe is helping to evolve this rapidly growing field, let our readers know about her in the comments section below. Don’t forget to check out our profiles of eco-pioneering women in renewable energy, sustainability, conservation and the cleantech sectors.
by Tracey de Morsella, Green Economy Post
*Note: The Green Economy Post, is a site that is focused on addressing the unique sustainability issues we face here in the US, so the women spotlighted in this post are from the US. This does not discount the many accomplishments of women in green building and design from other countries around the world.
Janine Benyus co-founded the Biomimicry Guild and the Innovation Consultancy, which helps innovators learn from and emulate natural models in order to design sustainable products, processes, and policies that create conditions conducive to life.. TBI’s Innovation for Conservation Program uses proceeds from bio-inspired products to conserve the habitat of the mentor organisms. She is also President of the Biomimicry Institute, a non-profit organization whose mission is to naturalize biomimicry in the culture by promoting the transfer of ideas, designs, and strategies from biology to sustainable human systems design. Janine and the staff of the Biomimicry Institute recently launched AskNature.org, a public database of biological literature organized by design function. She has also developed a “biology-taught-functionally” course for engineers and designers. She also works towards restoring and protecting wild lands.
Janine has received several awards including the 2009 Champion of the Earth award in Science & Innovation from the United Nations Environmental Programme, the Rachel Carson Environmental Ethics Award. Barrows and Heinz Distinguished Lectureships, and has been honored as one of TIME International’s Heros of the Environment. She is the author of six books, including her latest − Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. She also hosted and co-wrote a two-hour public television special based on her book, which aired on “The Nature of Things with David Suzuki” in 71 countries. Read the first Chapter from Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature.
Ann Edminster, M.Arch, is the owner of Design Avenues. She is an environmental design consultant and educator whose work focuses on investigation of building materials and systems. As a member and past co-chair of the US Green Building Council’s LEED Homes Committee, she is one of the principal authors of LEED for Homes. She also consults to the LEED for Homes Provider team in California, is a past member of the LEED Steering Committee, and a member and past co-chair of the USGBC’s Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group. Ann consults to builders, owners, developers, supply chain clients, design firms, investors, and public agencies and serves as an advisor to several private companies. She is co-author of Efficient Wood Use In Residential Construction: A Practical Guide to Saving Wood, Money, and Forests, author of numerous technical papers and articles, and has been an invited speaker at dozens of regional, national, and international green building conferences over the past 15 years.
Ann is an advisor to CalStar Cement; Ecological Building Network; Foundation Capital; Green Building Advisor; Living Homes; and Serious Materials. She has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in architecture and has designed more than 100 home remodels. Her own home remodel won a green building award in January 2007.
Rebecca L. Flora
Rebecca L. Flora serves as Board Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council. She is also the Executive Director of Green Building Alliance (GBA), a non-profit organization that drives market demand for green building throughout Western Pennsylvania. As the organization’s first executive director, Rebecca was responsible for its start-up, strategic direction, and growth over the past 11 years. In 2006, GBA launched the Green Building Product Initiative, a program initiated by Rebecca to grow Pennsylvania’s green economy through expansion of the green building products industry. Under her leadership, GBA received a 2001 Three Rivers Environmental Award in the Public Awareness category. Also noteworthy is her role as a member of the project team overseeing the greening of Pittsburgh’s $350 million convention center expansion project.
Previously, Rebecca served as executive director of the South Side Local Development Company (SSLDC), a non-profit that provides business development, planning and housing services to Pittsburgh’s historic main street and riverfront neighborhood of the South Side. During her tenure, the SSLDC was the 1996 winner of the Great American Main Street Award. Also while there, Ms. Flora completed the master planning of an eight-acre tract of former industrial riverfront land for housing redevelopment and directed the development of Phase II – New Birmingham, a 32-unit, energy-efficient housing development that was a Three Rivers Environment Awards finalist. Rebecca has been named an “Environmental Hero for 2004” by Interiors & Sources magazine and also one of “The Top 50 Cultural Forces in Pittsburgh” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Elizabeth J. Heider
Elizabeth J. Heider is Senior Vice President for Skanska USA Building Inc., She is responsible for the pre-construction management of large-scale multimillion-dollar construction programs. Elizabeth’s 29 years of professional experience include all phases of design and construction from master planning through project closeout as licensed architect, construction manager, cost manager and value engineering (VE) facilitator. She has completed studies on a variety of initiatives from the “conventional” value analysis of over 100 projects to specialty studies for the Federal Government exploring the cost commitment necessary for public buildings to become “green” (1998), to enhance workplace productivity (2000), to achieve LEED certification (LEED Cost Study, 2004) and to comply with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (2006 & 2007). In 2008, Skanska will provide a cost analysis of the Living Building Challenge, the beyond-LEED® Platinum metric developed by the Cascadia Chapter of the USGBC.
Elizabeth founded and chairs Skanska USA’s Green Council. The Skanska Green Council marshals all of Skanska’s sustainable preconstruction and construction capabilities nationwide, encourages and supports training and technical competency, coordinating sustainable expertise and information nationwide. She represents Skanska USA’s commitment to eco-efficient buildings at Skanska’s Environmental Performance Network which is comprised of Skanska’s environmental leaders worldwide. In addition to leading Skanska USA’s eco-efficient building initiatives. Commencing in 2008, Elizabeth was elected to serve a three-year term on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Board of Directors. She is a Vice President on the Board of Directors of The Construction Sciences Research Foundation and has served on a number of task forces, most recently for the USGBC Research Committee and AIA COTE to develop a national green building research agenda & on the University of Virginia’s Alumni Task Force. Elizabeth has also authored chapters in Building Security and Building Type Basics: Justice Facilities.
Elaine Hsieh is a Senior Green Building Consultant in the “Sustainable Buildings and Operations” department at KEMA Services, Inc., a global for-profit energy efficiency consulting firm. In this role, she advises developers, owners, architects, and/or capital partners on the application of rating systems (i.e., LEED, GreenPoint Rated) and building strategies including cost/benefit discussions and prioritization of green building goals. Elaine manages many large-scale LEED projects for commercial and residential sectors, writes and reviews project design recommendations, develops and implements green building training programs, and acts as the official GreenPoint Rater for affordable multi-family housing projects in Alameda County. She also develops, assesses, and revises multiple GreenPoint Rated systems for new and existing homes.
Elaine is an Advisory Board Member at Build2Sustain, the Pacific Regional Council Chair at U.S. Green Building Council; and the CSC Rep and LEED Steering Committee liaison at USGBC Chapter Steering Committee. Previously she was the Pacific Regional Council Representative at U.S. Green Building Council, and on the Board of Directors at U.S. Green Building Council, Northern California Chapter. Elaine was recently named among The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business by Reuters. Follow Elaine on Twitter.
Kelly Lerner is the principal of One World Design. One World Design Architecture, designs energy-efficient, naturally sustainable remodeling projects and new homes throughout the western United States. In 2005, Natural Home Magazine named her one of the top 10 eco-architects in the United States. She received the World Habitat Award at the United Nations World Habitat Day for spearheading a project that introduced straw-bale construction to China and built over 600 sustainable, straw-bale homes.
She has been a co-author or contributor Alternative Construction: Contemporary Natural Building Methods and Design of Straw Bale Buildings; The State of the Art and Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House. Her designs have been featured in numerous publications including: Landscape Architecture Magazine; Metropolis Magazine; Natural Home Magazine; Mother Earth News; The Straw Bale House; Serious Strawbale; and Green by Design. View an excerpt of her book, Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House.
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For over twenty years, Margie Ruddick has been recognized for work that integrates great landscape design with ecology. Margie’s transformative design for New York’s Queens Plaza has won awards for forging a new idea of nature in the city, where storm water, wind, sun, and habitat merge within an urban infrastructure to create a more sustainable vision of urban life. The new waterfront at Stapleton, in New York City, brings the harbor and city together in a park with cove and tidal wetlands, catalyzing the revitalization of this historic Staten Island district. Trenton Capital Park restores the connection between the city and the Delaware. Margie’s international projects include the Shillim Institute and Retreat in the Western Ghats of India; she has remained with the project as a member of the Institute’s board. She traveled to Chengdu, Sichuan, China in 1996 to lead a team designing the Living Water Park, the first ecological park in China that cleans polluted river water biologically.
Margie has taught at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Yale, The University of Pennsylvania, Parsons School of Design, and Schumacher College in England. Her many awards include the 1998 Waterfront Centre Award and the 1999 Places Design Award, for the Living Water Park; her work has received awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Institute of Architects. Margie received the 2002 Lewis Mumford Award from Architects Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility, and the 2006 Rachel Carson Women in Conservation Award from the National Audubon Society. Margie was born in Montreal, grew up in New York City, and attended Bowdoin College and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. She ran her own practice from 1988 to 2004, when she became a partner at the planning and design firm WRT.
Annette K. Stelmack
Annette K. Stelmack, LEED AP is the principal of Inspirit-llc, fusing environmental stewardship and creativity. With 30 years of experience in the building industry, Stelmack is a nationally recognized design leader, educator, and author—synergistically sharing her passion, knowledge, and strategies for green design. Annette was named one of the “Top Ten Green Design Gurus” by Innovative Home magazine in the spring of 2008. Two of her projects received the highest honors from the ASID Colorado Chapter for 1st place ‘Residential Sustainable Design’ in 2004 and 2005.
She is a contributing editor for Green Building Advisor and LEED faculty member for the U.S. Green Building Council. She chairs ASID’s National Sustainable Design Council and has served on the Technical Steering Committee, contributing to the development and content of the ASID/USGBC ReGreen Guidelines. Annette also chair’s ASID’s National Sustainable Design Council and USGBC Colorado’s Green School Initiative. She was founding board member of the U.S. Green Building Council – Colorado Chapter, serving as steering committee chair, past chapter president and co-led the Finance Committee for Greenbuild ‘06 in Denver. Annette has also coauthored ‘Sustainable Residential Interiors.’ Follow Annette on Twitter.
Kate Stohr is the Co-founder and Managing Director of Architecture for Humanity where she has been instrumental in leading the organization’s community development and reconstruction programs. Stohr has also led the development of the organization’s online platforms, including the Open Architecture Network, which is an open source platform for sharing sustainable and humanitarian design solutions. AFH has now blossomed into an international organization with forty chapters on five continents, working with local partners and innovative development models. Stohr was instrumental in shaping this grassroots organization that believes design can help serve the greater good. Kate has been instrumental in coordinating design services and bringing in more than $4 million for community development and rebuilding in the wake of the Southeast Asia Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.
She co-edited and edited the book Design Like You Give a Damn and has served as a panel moderator and guest speaker at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, “Live from the New York Public Library,” the Aspen Ideas Festival, and many other design conferences and events. Kate is the recipient of Wired magazine’s 2006 Rave Award for Architecture and was awarded the Royal Society of Arts Bicentenary Medal in 2009. Together with co-founder, Cameron Sinclair she accepted the 2008 Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Patron Award in honor of the work of Architecture for Humanity, its chapters, volunteers and design fellows. Stohr is the recipient of Wired magazine’s 2006 Rave Award for Architecture and serves as a board member for the Center for Architecture and Design in San Francisco.
Anni Tilt, BSE, MArch, co-founded Arkin Tilt Architects with her husband after successfully collaborating on a number of projects, including their two children. A designer and project manager, Anni has worked for eight years with internationally-acclaimed Fernau and Hartman Architects, and DEGW, an innovative London-based firm specializing in workplace design.
She has also been a construction coordinator for a major building contractor in Seattle. With a B.S.E. in Civil Engineering from Princeton University, Anni explored ecological use of wood in construction, taught structures and design, and was awarded the prestigious Branner Traveling Fellowship while pursuing an M. Arch. at UC Berkeley. Anni is currently on the board of the Ecological Building Network, and was one of the founding members of the California Straw Building Association (CASBA).
Carol Venolia is an architect and educator who has been involved with ecological building for over 30 years. Named a Green Design Trailblazer by Natural Home Magazine, she has designed numerous context-responsive homes of straw, earth, and “good wood” and consulted on schools, healing centers, and eco-villages.
She is the co-author of Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House. Her first book, Healing Environments: Your Guide to Indoor Well-Being, advocates restoring the vital connections between humans and the rest of the living world. In addition to her architectural practice, Carol writes the “Design for Life” column for Natural Home Magazine. Her design work has been featured in The Natural House Catalog, Earth to Spirit, The Healthy House, and Environ Magazine. She also serves on the board if the The Ecological Building Network,an international association of builders, engineers, architects, academics and developers committed to promoting intelligent building methods and materials for a sustainable future. View Excerpts of Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House.
© 2010, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.